Apapa Customs seizes endangered species worth N952 million

Comptroller Mohammed Abba Kura, Controller, Apapa Customs Command

Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Command, Lagos has seized 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800 kg and 57 sacks of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as Ivory/animal horns, lion bones, etc destined for Haiphong, Vietnam, at Apapa Port.

Customs Area Controller of the command, Comptroller Mohammed Abba-Kura stated this yesterday, saying that the seizure was recorded based on credible intelligence. 

According to Comptroller Abba-Kura, “on Thursday, 21st January 2021 based on credible intelligence, Customs Operatives at the Export seat of Apapa Command were successful at detecting and arresting one unit of 20 feet container which was processed for export and falsely declared as furniture components in an attempt to evade arrest.

“Upon 100% physical examination, it was found to contain: – 162 sacks of pangolin scales weighing 8,800 kg. – 57 sacks of mixed endangered species of various sizes such as Ivory/animal horns, lion bones, etc destined for Haiphong, Vietnam.

“The total weight of the aforementioned items stood at 854,719 tonnes and valued at Nine hundred and fifty-two million Naira (N952,000,000).”

The controller informed that one suspect, Mr. Felix Oname, arrested in connection with the seizure is currently in detention and is being interrogated. “After due investigation, the Service headquarters will take necessary action in line with environmental laws, guidelines, protocols, conventions and treaties on environment.

“For the avoidance of doubt, our action of impounding this container is in line with the provisions of Section 147 of Customs and Excise Management Act (CEMA) Cap 45, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. Also, the seizure is in line with schedule 6 of the Common External Tariff.

“To this end, all efforts will be geared towards ensuring that such dangerous and harmful environmental crimes are detected and prevented. Equally, all economic saboteurs will be made to face the full wrath of the law.”

The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES 1973) entails that Customs Administration all over the world protects wildlife by intercepting illegal trade on such animals. Pangolins—scaly, shy, and sensitive—are believed to be the world’s most trafficked nonhuman mammals, accounting for as much as 20% of all illegal wildlife trade. Their scales, which are made of keratin (the material in fingernails) have no scientifically proven curative properties but are in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine. Consequently, all eight species are threatened with extinction. Despite a 2017 ban on the international commercial trade of the scales, experts estimate that more than a million pangolins were poached from 2000 through to 2014.

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